By Muhammad Siddiqui
Now that we are a couple of weeks into the semester, most students are beginning to feel the brunt of their coursework. For some, getting back into the routine of balancing work for classes and other commitments has become second nature. However, for others, the freshman class in particular, this adjustment period may be unfamiliar. Looking back at my own experience freshman year, there are definitely some things I would have done differently.
Perhaps one of my greatest regrets was not getting involved in more extracurriculars. The school offers upwards of 100 student organizations to get involved with, and I remember having a list of over 20 of them that caught my interest during my freshman year.
But once I started my first semester, that list got lost in the midst of textbooks and pencils, and extracurriculars became the least of my priorities. Understandably, I was a little overwhelmed with my classes and I decided that my grades would be my priority – a reasonable decision.
Looking back, I wish I had kept my list in a safe location apart from the chaos of school materials. Extracurriculars are not only a great way to get involved in the College community, but they are also great ways to meet new people. As a freshman biology major, I decided to get involved in Tri-Beta, a club in which other bio majors or students with a general interest in the field get together and participate in science-related events. This club allowed me to get to know students from my classes, as well as other people from around campus with whom I had never spoken before. In fact, some of my closest friends were made during the Ecology Trail Clean-Up and Science Club events that Tri-Beta organized.
Extracurriculars, in my case, were also good ways to explore my identity and find people who had similar (and different) mindsets as my own. Another organization I joined my freshman year was the Muslim Student Association. During MSA meetings, I had a chance to meet with so many people with different perspectives from my own, brought together by the faith that we had in common. Through member-led discussions and simple conversations with other people at the meetings, I had a chance to see just how diverse the customs and beliefs were among a group of people whom I assumed would be just like me. Had I decided never to show up to these meetings, I do not think I would have completely appreciated the different ideas in my faith tradition, despite having grown up with it my entire life.
I started freshman year with a list of all the clubs I wanted to get involved in. However, in the end, I did myself a real disservice by only exploring a few of them. Extracurriculars allowed me to make new friends, get involved in the campus community and, in general, learn more about myself and open up to ideas beyond the beliefs I had previously held.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, finding the balance of extracurriculars and schoolwork and joining different organizations around campus is ultimately rewarding. You’ll meet new people and grow as a person, which should be part of anyone’s college experience. So as tough as it may be, go out there and join some extracurriculars. And, as a reminder to myself and others like me, it is never too late to explore a new interest or get involved.